Chicago Tribune: ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ stars dish on the new movie

08/11/2010

Pilgrim

Jason Schwartzman and Anna Kendrick in Chicago August 9. (Tribune photo by Nancy Stone)

Anna Kendrick looked like she was resting in between interviews in a downtown Chicago hotel room on Monday, but the 25-year-old actress, who earned an Oscar nomination for her role in “Up in the Air,” insisted she was laid out on the couch for a different reason.

“My hero just texted me ‘happy birthday,’ ” said Kendrick, swooning.

Kendrick, who declined to name the texter, put her phone away and sat up for the interview. This left plenty of room on the couch for her “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” co-star Jason Schwartzman — not that he needed it.

Schwartzman opted to kneel on the floor and lean against a coffee table. It fit his quirky personality, as did his “Magnum, P.I.”-like mustache.

“I got to go to Lollapalooza (Sunday),” said Schwartzman, 30. “… I heard all the bands stay in one hotel and hang out in the lobby together and go to see each other’s shows. That makes me happy. It’s like the Care Bears movie where the Care Bears and the Care Bear Cousins join forces to take on the evil wizard at summer camp.”

Yes, this is the same guy who plays the main villain in “Scott Pilgrim,” the trippy comic book adaptation in theaters Friday. But Schwartzman’s character, music mogul Gideon Gordon Graves, isn’t a stereotypical movie bad guy. Graves comes off as nice and charming at times, even if he is probably faking it.

“I tried to find a balance between being someone who would be the final bad guy and at the same time not make him overtly predictable,” he said. “He’s passive aggressive as opposed to clearly threatening. He doesn’t see Scott (Michael Cera) as a true opponent. He sees him as a sweet young kid.”

In order to win the heart of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Pilgrim must defeat her seven evil exes, including Graves. Along the way, he gets advice from his gossip-loving sister, Stacey, played by Kendrick. She was asked to read for the role after director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) saw her in 2007′s “Rocket Science.”

Unlike some of her co-stars, Kendrick didn’t have to swing a sword or throw any flying punches for her role — and that was perfectly fine with the “Twilight” actress.

“They worked so hard in these uncomfortable contraptions (for the fight scenes),” Kendrick said of her co-stars. “I had nothing but respect for what they did. But I was very happy to be sitting in a comfortable chair rather than strapped to a harness flipping around.”

“There were so many harnesses around, it felt like we were in an episode of (HBO’s) ‘Real Sex,’” said Schwartzman.

The fight sequences were exhausting and potentially dangerous, according to Schwartzman, but he and Cera still managed to laugh between takes. Schwartzman, known for his roles in “Rushmore,” “Fantstic Mr. Fox,” and HBO’s “Bored to Death,” kept thinking that none of his high school friends would have believed he would end up in an elaborate battle scene one day.

He’s never been in a fight or even close to it, though he did get shoved recently at a Guitar Center in Los Angeles.

“I opened the door for someone and then bumped into a guy who was staring at the RockWalk memorabilia,” said Schwartzman, getting up to re-enact the incident. “I said ‘Sorry,’ and then the guy pushed me really hard with his elbow. He pushed me west. He must have had a drumstick up his …”

“Scott Pilgrim” takes place in Toronto and was filmed in the Canadian city last year. For Kendrick, it was one of four films she has shot in Canada, along with two “Twilight” films (“New Moon” and “Eclipse” were filmed in Vancouver) and the coming dramedy “Live with It” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen.

She feels like an honorary Canadian at this point, except when she’s walking through customs.

“When you say you’re an actor, they ask you what you’ve done,” Kendrick said. “I always get the person that’s never heard of ‘Twilight.’ I told them what I was doing there and they said, ‘That’s not real — who would call a movie “Scott Pilgrim”?’

“One time a guy looked up the movie on imdb.com and didn’t believe me until he saw Michael Cera’s name. ‘Oh, it’s the kid from “Superbad.”‘ And then he let me in.”

larroyave@tribune.com

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